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Mexican Cartel Strategic Note No. 26: Grenade Attack on US Consulate in Guadalajara Followed by CJNG Narcomantas Denying Responsibility

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Mexican Cartel Strategic Note No. 26: Grenade Attack on US Consulate in Guadalajara Followed by CJNG Narcomantas Denying Responsibility

 

John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker

 

The US Consulate in Guadalajara, Jalisco was attacked with two grenades in the hours before Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (ALMO) was sworn in as Mexico’s new president. The attack, which occurred around 2300 hours on Friday, 30 November 2018, involved two grenades thrown at the consulate. While the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG)—has been mentioned as a possible suspect group in the attack—which yielded no injuries the CJNG denies involvement.

 

Key Information:  Alfredo Corchado, “Grenade attack on U.S. Consulate may be an ominous warning for Mexico’s new president,” Dallas News (Dallas Morning News), 3 December 2018, https://www.dallasnews.com/news/mexico/2018/12/03/grenade-attack-us-consulate-may-ominous-warning-mexicos-new-president:

The U.S. Consulate in Mexico’s second-largest city, Guadalajara, opened Monday with limited operations after it was targeted with two grenades over the weekend, just hours before Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was sworn in as the nation's first leftist president.

 

The act occurred when the consulate was closed, and no one was injured. But it immediately caused alarm among government officials and security experts who question whether it was meant as a test for the new Lopez Obrador government, to provoke the Trump administration, or both…

 

Elements of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, whose headquarters are in Guadalajara, were suspected in the act. Security was reinforced Monday outside consulate offices as well as at the U.S Embassy in Mexico City as a precaution…

 

Near midnight on Friday [30 November], a person, caught on film, tossed two grenades into the U.S. Consulate General compound. Grenade fragments were found at the scene and the blast left a 16-inch hole in an exterior wall. The damage was considered minimal…

 

The incident comes nearly two weeks after the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, known by its Spanish acronym, CNGJ, allegedly posted a video online in which it threatened to attack the consulate.

Key Information: Gloria Reza M.,Detona granada en el Consulado de Estados Unidos en Guadalajara,” Proceso, 1 December 2018, https://www.proceso.com.mx/562018/detona-granada-en-el-consulado-de-estados-unidos-en-guadalajara:

GUADALAJARA, Jal. (apro).– La Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) investiga la explosión de una granada de fragmentación en el Consulado de Estados Unidos en Guadalajara.

 

De acuerdo con la Comisaría de Guadalajara, la noche del viernes, alrededor de las 23:00 horas, “se reportó la detonación de un aparato explosivo”…

 

Amenaza

 

Apro publicó, el pasado 22 de noviembre, que en un video que circula en redes sociales, un supuesto sicario del Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) visiblemente golpeado, con las manos atadas a la espalda y con una venda que le cubre un ojo y parte de la cabeza, dijo tener la orden de colocar una bomba en el Consulado de Estados Unidos.

 

El sujeto dijo formar parte de la célula Delta y aseguró tener la orden del líder del CJNG, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, de colocar una bomba en el consulado de Estados Unidos “para que dejen en paz al señor Mencho”.

Key Information: “Estallan granadas en consulado estadunidense de Guadalajara,” Excelsior, 2 December 2018, https://www.excelsior.com.mx/nacional/estallan-granadas-en-consulado-estadunidense-de-guadalajara/1282:

De acuerdo con fuentes de la comisaría de Guadalajara, registraron la detonación de un aparato explosivo en las inmediaciones del consulado, ubicado en la colonia Americana.

 

Señalaron que trabajadores de la sede consular afirmaron que el lugar tenía daños propios de una granada de fragmentación y una de las paredes externas presentaba un agujero de 40 centímetros.

 

Al llegar al lugar los policías encontraron restos de dos granadas, por lo que el sitio fue resguardado por miembros del Ejército mexicano y las investigaciones fueron atraídas por la PGR para determinar qué tipo de artefacto fue utilizado.

 

La Fiscalía General de Jalisco informó de que “luego de los hechos ocurridos en el Consultado de Estados Unidos en Guadalajara, donde se reportó la detonación de un aparato explosivo, las investigaciones han sido atraídas por autoridades federales, quienes en su momento informarán los avances”.

 

Hace días circuló un video en el que miembros del Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación advertía de un posible ataque al consulado, aunque no se ha podido verificar la veracidad de las imágenes.

Key Information: Mark Stevenson (AP), “Report: Mexican cartel denies US consulate attack,” Washington Post, 7 December 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/report-mexican-cartel-denies-us-consulate-attack/2018/12/07/bb34397e-fa46-11e8-8642-c9718a256cbd_story.html?utm_term=.534288ffcfab:

Officials in western Mexico confirmed Friday that a drug cartel has hung up banners denying involvement in a Nov. 30 grenade attack on the U.S. consulate in Guadalajara.

 

Several media outlets posted photos of the banners, which read: “Our cartel totally and completely distances itself from what happened at the U.S. embassy (sic).”

 

The banners were signed “Jalisco New Generation cartel…”

 

The professionally printed vinyl banners read, “We are not the ones who carried out the attack” on the consulate.

 

“You, the government, know perfectly well who is doing things with the aim of sullying our organization’s image,” the banner continued.

Analysis

 

A lone actor threw two grenades at the US consulate in Guadalajara [1][2] on Friday, 30 November 2018 at approximately 2300 hours (2248 hours is listed in some reports).  No injuries resulted from the attack. The attack is under investigation by Mexican authorities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI has offered a $20,000 reward for information on the suspect and the attack.[3]  The grenades detonated leaving minimal damage (the blast left a 16-inch hole in an exterior wall).[4]

 

The CJNG is mentioned as a suspect group due to a torture-interrogation video threatening to attack the consulate allegedly posted online by a rival cartel group approximately two weeks before the incident.  The video shows an unidentified man with facial bandages who was apparently beaten.  That individual stated on camera that he was ordered to attack the consulate and conduct kidnappings for ransom by the CJNG to fund payoffs to corrupt politicians.  The individual also said he was being assisted by state and local police to conduct these operations to send a message to US authorities to leave “El Mencho,” Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, the leader of the CJNG, alone. “El Mencho” is on the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) most wanted list.[5]  The CJNG has denied participation in the subsequent attack via narcomantas (banners) posted in at least five locations in Guadalajara.[6]

 

1

 

US Consulate in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Street View, April 2018 [Note Anti-VBIED Perimeter Barriers]

Juan Pablo Ibarra Flores (Social Media)

https://www.google.com/maps/contrib/116343120583194320970/photos/@20.6615125,-103.3749983,15z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m3!8m2!3m1!1e1?hl=en-US

 

The attack comes at a complex and precarious time for Mexico.  Indeed, “The nature and timing of the crime hint at the complexity of Mexico's criminal landscape.”[7] The new sexenio brings a time of renewed uncertainty and a potential power vacuum as cartels seek to remain viable in the face of potential crackdowns by the new administration headed by ALMO combined with increased tension on the US-Mexico border, a migration crisis involving Central American migrants and refugees from crime and drug wars, and hostility from the US president.  The grenade attack itself, the alleged prior warning video, and the narcomantas denying CJNG are all dimensions of Mexico’s cartel competition and criminal insurgency.[8]

 

Grenade attacks are not unheard of in Mexico[9] nor are attacks on consular officials.[10]  Direct confrontation by cartels and gangs remains rare, although the CJNG has been responsible for several attacks and ambushes on police and military counterdrug forces.[11] Another dimension of grenade use was also seen in the integration of grenades with aerial drones in Baja California in July 2018; the CJNG was also suspected in that incident.[12]

 

2

 

“Entre la disputa de carteles en la zmg,un video  de un supuesto integrante de un grupo delictivo denominados deltas”

Cartel Interrogation Video of CJNG ‘Delta’ Sicario (Self Identified)—2 Minute Duration

@INSEGURIDAD_GDL (Social Media)

 http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2018/11/guadalajara-cjng-operator-claims-they.html

 

3

 

Up To $10 Million Dollar Reward Offered for “El Mencho”—Leader of CJNG

U.S. Department of State (For Public Distribution)

https://www.state.gov/j/inl/narc/rewards/275636.htm

 

4

 

Cártel de Jalisco. Deslinde de ataque a Consulado (Social Media)

https://www.sdpnoticias.com/local/jalisco/2018/12/06/cartel-de-jalisco-se-deslinda-de-ataque-a-consulado-de-eu-en-guadalajara

 

Timing and CJNG Nexus?

 

The timing of cartel-related attacks and campaigns to influence the political situation—including Mexican presidential elections—is not unknown.  This includes the initiation and cessation of campaigns.  For example, the cessation of the cluster of car bombings in Mexico (essentially anti-personnel rather than anti-infrastructure focused) from July 2010 through July 2012 took place soon after Enrique Peña Nieto (the PRI candidate) won the general presidential elections on 1 July 2012.[13]  This suggests that the grenade attack on the US Consulate in Guadalajara may have been timed by the CJNG to either influence the new domestic security policies of ALMO (and the United States)—an assumption based on both that cartel’s past pattern of behaviors and strategic messaging, as well as the sicario interrogation video that surfaced two weeks prior to the attack.

 

Alternative  Hypothesis?

 

Alternatively, it could be a well executed strategic deception campaign initiated by Carlos Enrique Sánchez, “El Cholo,” and the Nueva Plaza Cartel (el cártel Nueva Plaza) which splintered from the CJNG to weaken the CJNG by further placing it on a collision course with the new presidential administration.[14]  If the later is indeed the case—although it would likely be beyond the capacity of Nueva Plaza Cartel to formulate—this would suggest that the Sinaloa cartel (a natural ally of this new cartel) may be involved in this strategic deception campaign.  Such a perception might not be too far fetched given the numerous narcomantas that appeared after the grenade incident vehemently denying the CJNG involvement in this matter.

 

Conclusion

 

While grenade use by cartels and gangs in Mexico isn’t novel, this attack nevertheless represents a strategic progression by once again demonstrating the willingness of criminal cartels to attack US targets in Mexico and wage information operations in order to influence enforcement initiatives by both the United States and Mexico.

 

Sources

 

Alfredo Corchado, “Grenade attack on U.S. Consulate may be an ominous warning for Mexico’s new president,” Dallas News (Dallas Morning News), 3 December 2018, https://www.dallasnews.com/news/mexico/2018/12/03/grenade-attack-us-consulate-may-ominous-warning-mexicos-new-president.

 

“Estallan granadas en consulado estadunidense de Guadalajara,” Excelsior, 2 December 2018, https://www.excelsior.com.mx/nacional/estallan-granadas-en-consulado-estadunidense-de-guadalajara/1282.

 

“ESTREMECE SICARIO QUE CONFIESA TENER ÓRDENES PARA ESTALLAR CONSULADO AMERICANO (VÍDEO),” Blog del Narco, 6 December 2018, https://elblogdelnarco.com/2018/12/06/estremece-sicario-que-confiesa-tener-ordenes-para-estallar-consulado-americano-video/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mundonarcocom+%28El+Blog+del+narco%29.

 

Gloria Reza M.,Detona granada en el Consulado de Estados Unidos en Guadalajara,” Proceso, 1 December 2018, https://www.proceso.com.mx/562018/detona-granada-en-el-consulado-de-estados-unidos-en-guadalajara.

 

Carolina Rivera, “EU ofrece 20 mil dólares por responsables de ataque a consulado en Guadalajara,” Milenio, 4 December 2018, http://www.milenio.com/policia/eu-ofrece-20-mil-dolares-responsables-ataque-consulado-guadalajara.

 

Mark Stevenson (AP), “Report: Mexican cartel denies US consulate attack,” Washington Post, 7 December 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/report-mexican-cartel-denies-us-consulate-attack/2018/12/07/bb34397e-fa46-11e8-8642-c9718a256cbd_story.html?utm_term=.534288ffcfab.

 

Christopher Woody (Business Insider), “Someone threw 2 grenades at a US consulate in Mexico, and the FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information about,” Laredo Morning Times (LMTonline), 5 December 2018, https://www.lmtonline.com/technology/businessinsider/article/Someone-threw-2-grenades-at-a-US-consulate-in-13444087.php

 

End Notes

 

[1] “Consulate General Guadalajara,” U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico, U.S. Department of State, nd, https://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/guadalajara/.

 

[2] “Security Alert – U.S. Consulate General Guadalajara,” U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico, U.S. Department of State, 1 December 2018, https://mx.usembassy.gov/security-alert-u-s-consulate-general-guadalajara/.

 

[3] Carolina Rivera, “EU ofrece 20 mil dólares por responsables de ataque a consulado en Guadalajara,” Milenio, 4 December 2018, http://www.milenio.com/policia/eu-ofrece-20-mil-dolares-responsables-ataque-consulado-guadalajara.

 

[4] Alfredo Corchado, “Grenade attack on U.S. Consulate may be an ominous warning for Mexico’s new president,” Dallas News (Dallas Morning News), 3 December 2018, https://www.dallasnews.com/news/mexico/2018/12/03/grenade-attack-us-consulate-may-ominous-warning-mexicos-new-president.

 

[5] Ibid, note 4 and “ESTREMECE SICARIO QUE CONFIESA TENER ÓRDENES PARA ESTALLAR CONSULADO AMERICANO (VÍDEO),” Blog del Narco, 6 December 2018, https://elblogdelnarco.com/2018/12/06/estremece-sicario-que-confiesa-tener-ordenes-para-estallar-consulado-americano-video/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mundonarcocom+%28El+Blog+del+narco%29.

 

[6] Mark Stevenson (AP), “Report: Mexican cartel denies US consulate attack,” Washington Post, 7 December 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/report-mexican-cartel-denies-us-consulate-attack/2018/12/07/bb34397e-fa46-11e8-8642-c9718a256cbd_story.html?utm_term=.534288ffcfab and “CJNG MANDA MENSAJE A ESTADOS UNIDOS CON NARCOMANTA EN GUADALAJARA,” Blog del Narco, 6 December 2018, https://elblogdelnarco.com/2018/12/06/cjng-manda-mensaje-a-estados-unidos-con-narcomanta-en-guadalajara/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mundonarcocom+%28El+Blog+del+narco%29.

 

[7] Christopher Woody (Business Insider), “Someone threw 2 grenades at a US consulate in Mexico, and the FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information about,” Laredo Morning Times (LMTonline), 5 December 2018, https://www.lmtonline.com/technology/businessinsider/article/Someone-threw-2-grenades-at-a-US-consulate-in-13444087.php.

 

[8] See John P. Sullivan, “Cartel Info Ops: Power and Counter-power in Mexico’s Drug War,” MountainRunner, 15 November 2010, https://mountainrunner.us/2010/11/cartel_info_ops_power_and_counter-power_in_mexico_drug_war/ and Chuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, “Chicago's most-wanted drug lord in PR battle over consulate bombing,” Eyewitness News, ABC 7 (Chicago), 10 December 2018, https://abc7chicago.com/chicagos-most-wanted-drug-lord-in-pr-battle-over-consulate-bombing/4874457/.

 

[9] In Morelia on 15 September 2008, suspected members of Los Zetas tossed grenades into a crowd celebrating Mexican Independence day, killing eight and wounding over 100.  Grenades have also been used in assaults and ambushes on police and public officials.  See “FACTBOX-Worst attacks in Mexico's drug war,” Reuters, 18 July 2010, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N18131453.htm and Nick Miroff and William Booth, “Mexican drug cartels’ newest weapon: Cold War-era grenades made in U.S.,” Washington Post. 17 July 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2010/07/16/AR2010071606252.html cited at John P. Sullivan, “Explosive Escalation? Reflections on the Car Bombing in Ciudad Juarez,” Small Wars Journal, 21 July 2010, http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/explosive-escalation.

 

[10] Three persons associated with the US consulate in Ciudad Juárez were killed in gang-related attacks in March 2010.  This included one consulate employee and her husband and the husband of another consulate employee.  The attack was attributed to the Barrio Azteca gang.  See “Three linked to US Consulate killed in Ciudad Juárez,” Justice in Mexico, March 2010, https://justiceinmexico.org/three-linked-to-us-consulate-killed-in-ciudad-juarez/ and “Barrio Azteca Lieutenant Who Ordered the Consulate Murders in Ciudad Juarez Sentenced to Life in Prison,” US Department of Justice, Press release Number 14-428, 14 September 2014, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/barrio-azteca-lieutenant-who-ordered-consulate-murders-ciudad-juarez-sentenced-life-prison.

 

[11] See, for example, John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker, “Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #25: Ambush Kills 15; Injures 5 Police in Jalisco,” Small Wars Journal, 16 July 2015,

http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/mexican-cartel-tactical-note-25-ambush-kills-15-injures-5-police-in-jalisco; Robert J. Bunker, “Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #24: Gendarmerie Ambushed in Ocotlan, Jalisco State by Narco Commando—5 Killed, 8 Wounded,” Small Wars Journal, 20 May 2015, http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/mexican-cartel-tactical-note-24; and John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker, “Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #37: Kidnapped SEIDO Intelligence Officers Appear in Cartel Video; Subsequently Found Murdered,” Small Wars Journal, 21 February 2018, http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/mexican-cartel-tactical-note-37-kidnapped-seido-intelligence-officers-appear-cartel-video.

 

[12] John P. Sullivan, Robert J. Bunker and David A. Kuhn, “Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #38: Armed Drone Targets the Baja California Public Safety Secretary’s Residence in Tecate, Mexico,” Small Wars Journal, 6 August 2018, http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/mexican-cartel-tactical-note-38-armed-drone-targets-baja-california-public-safety.

 

[13] Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan, Cartel Car Bombings in Mexico, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, 16 August 2013, https://ssi.armywarcollege.edu/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=1166.

 

[14] For background on “El Cholo” and the Nueva Plaza Cartel (el cártel Nueva Plaza), see Mexico Investigative Team, “The New Criminal Group Hitting Mexico’s CJNG Where It Hurts,” Insight Crime, 24 July 2018, https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/new-criminal-group-hitting-mexicos-cjng-hurts/.  Potential links to the Colombian organized crime and Sinaloa cartel are also mentioned in this article.  In addition, see Gardenia Mendoza, “¿Qué tan poderoso es el cártel Nueva Plaza? La Opinion, 5 June 2018, https://laopinion.com/2018/06/05/que-tan-poderoso-es-el-cartel-nueva-plaza/ and Dennis A. Garcia, “Se reacomodan cárteles para controlar el tráfico de drogas en la zona occidente,” La Jornada, 10 September 2018, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2018/09/10/politica/010n2pol for discussion of the competition for control of narcotrafficking in Western Mexico.

 

Additional Reading

 

Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan, Cartel Car Bombings in Mexico, Strategic Studies Institute, 16 August 2013.

 

Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan, Eds. Narcoterrorism and Impunity in the Americas:: A Small Wars Journal-El Centro Anthology, 2016.

 

John P. Sullivan, Robert J. Bunker and David A. Kuhn, “Mexican Cartel Tactical Note #38: Armed Drone Targets the Baja California Public Safety Secretary’s Residence in Tecate, Mexico,” Small Wars Journal, 6 August 2018.

 

John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker, Eds. The Rise of the Narcostate (Mafia States): A Small Wars Journal-El Centro Anthology, 2018.

Categories: El Centro

About the Author(s)

John P. Sullivan was a career police officer. He retired as a lieutenant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He is also an adjunct researcher at the Vortex Foundation in Bogotá, Colombia; a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Global Observatory of Transnational Criminal Networks; a senior research fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism (CAST); a Global Fellow at Stratfor (2018); and an instructor at the Safe Communities Institute at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. He is co-editor of Blood and Concrete: 21st Century Conflict in Urban Centers and Megacities (Xlibris, 2019), Countering Terrorism and WMD: Creating a Global Counter-Terrorism Network (Routledge, 2006) and Global Biosecurity: Threats and Responses (Routledge, 2010) and co-author of Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency: A Small Wars Journal-El Centro Anthology (iUniverse, 2011), Studies in Gangs and Cartels (Routledge, 2013), and The Rise of The Narcostate (Mafia States) (Xlibris, 2018). He completed the CREATE Executive Program in Counter-Terrorism at the University of Southern California and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the College of William and Mary, a Master of Arts in Urban Affairs and Policy Analysis from the New School for Social Research, and a PhD from the Open University of Catalonia (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya) in Barcelona. His doctoral thesis was “Mexico’s Drug War: Cartels, Gangs, Sovereignty and the Network State.” His current research focus is the impact of transnational organized crime on sovereignty in Mexico and other countries.

Dr. Robert J. Bunker is an Adjunct Research Professor, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College and Adjunct Faculty, Division of Politics and Economics, Claremont Graduate University. He holds university degrees in political science, government, social science, anthropology-geography, behavioral science, and history and has undertaken hundreds of hours of counterterrorism training. Past professional associations include Distinguished Visiting Professor and Minerva Chair at the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College; Futurist in Residence, Training and Development Division, Behavioral Science Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy, Quantico, VA; Staff Member (Consultant), Counter-OPFOR Program, National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center-West; and Adjunct Faculty, National Security Studies M.A. Program and Political Science Department, California State University, San Bernardino, CA. Dr. Bunker has hundreds of publications including Studies in Gangs and Cartels, with John Sullivan (Routledge, 2013),  Red Teams and Counterterrorism Training, with Stephen Sloan (University of Oklahoma, 2011), and edited works, including Global Criminal and Sovereign Free Economies and the Demise of the Western Democracies: Dark Renaissance (Routledge, 2014), co-edited with Pamela Ligouri Bunker; Criminal Insurgencies in Mexico and the Americas: The Gangs and Cartels Wage War (Routledge, 2012); Narcos Over the Border: Gangs, Cartels and Mercenaries (Routledge, 2011); Criminal-States and Criminal-Soldiers (Routledge, 2008); Networks, Terrorism and Global Insurgency (Routledge, 2005); and Non-State Threats and Future Wars (Routledge, 2002).